Skiing With a Beginner at Whistler Blackcomb

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the best track record of teaching my oldest daughter to ski. From blowing my knee when our skis got tangled, to having her legitimately run away from ski school, to having to have her ski patrolled off the mountain when I took us the wrong way, to resorting to hiring a (very expensive) private instructor more than once when nothing else was working, let’s just say it has been a process. An expensive, painful, tearful process.


First time on skis at 3 years old

…she ran away from ski school later that day at 4 years old.

Now, it wasn’t all bad. She really wanted to ski, she just wanted to ski with me…which took time, especially since we were usually only skiing once a year so progress was slow.

Doing one run with my after ski school at age 6

But now after several years, thousands of dollars, and one knee MRI have passed, she is eight, and it was time to again try to ski together. Coincidentally enough, it was time to try to ski with her at Whistler Blackcomb, the exact place where my ACL was torn trying to help her; I ultimately left Canada in a wheelchair as a result.

Use the Beginners Area off the Whistler Mid Station Gondola

I sent my daughter to ski school the first two days of this trip so that I could actually ski more of the mountain and she could hopefully get her ski legs back. Then, on the third day, it was time to ski together for the entire day. Thankfully, she is now advanced enough that we didn’t need to spend much time in the Beginner’s Area that is found just off the Mid Station Gondola stop (head here to pull up a Whistler Blackcomb trail map). We spent a ton of time there when she was four-years-old, and with magic carpets and very gradual and short ski areas, it is the perfect place for true beginners at Whistler to start their skiing or riding journey.

Ski school classes use that area heavily, but you don’t have to be in a ski or ride program to practice there with your kids or by yourself. Once you graduate from that magic carpet zone, the next logical step is the Olympic Chair that is immediately next to the Beginner’s Area. This is a chairlift that is designed for those learning, so don’t stress out if you are still getting the hang of getting on and off the chair effectively.

The short green run off of the Olympic Chairlift is very simple and straightforward, and a perfect next step from the beginner’s area. You will see lots of ski school classes on that run and lift throughout the day.

Check out the Yellow Brick Road on Blackcomb

Another great spot for beginners is on the very bottom of the Blackcomb side where you can take the Magic Chair Lift to the very green short run called the Yellow Brick Road. If we want to get technical, this is exactly where I blew my knee a few years ago, but that certainly wasn’t the fault of the run as it is a short, smooth, wide ride for beginners.

This chairlift is also very slow and beginner friendly with attendants really looking out for those who need some extra help. Here is my daughter on that slow and steady chairlift at four years old and again at eight years old.

Ski lift at 4 years old

Ski Lower Olympic from the Mid Station Gondola

Once you graduate from the true beginner areas and lifts at Whistler Blackcomb, my next suggestion is to take the Whistler Gondola to the Mid Station just as you would to get to the beginner area, but instead of walking up the hill to the beginner area, instead ski the green Lower Olympic run all the way back down to the bottom.

This is a green run all the way down, and there is only a small patch or two that requires a bit more turning due to being slightly steeper than the rest of the run. In part because I just never want to get either of us in over our heads again, we didn’t go beyond testing our skills on the Lower Olympic run, even though my daughter was begging me to take her all the way up.

Then head further up to Emerald Express

Had we gone a bit further up the mountain, my next target for her on Whistler would have been green runs off of the Emerald Express chair such as Ego Bowl and Lower Whiskey Jack. The Enchanted Forest on that section of the mountain is also really fun, but I believe it is technically a blue instead of a green, so keep that in mind. I think that the Whistler side of the mountain is better than the Blackcomb side of the mountain in terms of finding green runs for those who have just moved beyond the true beginner areas.

I am so thankful that Whistler Blackcomb truly does have something for everyone, including beginners and their parents who aren’t always that great at teaching them.

If you are interested in planning a trip to Whistler Blackcomb, here are some other articles and even a video to help get you on your way. If you have skied or boarded at Whistler Blackcomb before, I’d love to hear about your favorite spots for beginners!

Planning a Whistler Ski Trip Using Miles and Points

How to Save Money Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb

Things to Know About the Westin Whistler Resort

Driving to Whistler from Seattle Instead of Vancouver

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  1. My 8 year old son picked up skiing pretty quickly when he was 4 after a few lessons. Now while he is still a lil behind me we can ski together and on greens or easy blues he can actually cruise by me. (it seems OK when a lil kid flies down a green, but when an adult does it everyone gives him an evil eye.)
    My 7 year old daughter has been through numerous lessons and is still on the bunny hills. Hopefully this year it can click for her and she can join her brother.

  2. The runs off Big Red Express are fun. A lot of the ski schools use Papoose and Pony Trail for the beginner kids who have finally made it off the Olympic Chair.

  3. You hit the main easy areas for kids on Whistler. From easiest to harder, I would go
    1. Olympic Station – magic carpets
    2. Olympic Chair runs
    3. Lower Olympic from the mid-station to the Village
    4. From the Garbanzo Express top, Papoose to Bear Cub (stopping at the Tree Fort if you have time) to Expressway
    5. From the Garbanzo Express top, Pony Trail to Expressway (despite being marked an easiest route, Pony Trail gets steep where it crosses under Big Red Express and would be a blue most places)
    6. From the Roundhouse, Pony Trail or Upper Whiskey Jack, connecting with either of the last two runs (note Upper Whiskey Jack has a couple of steeper pitches)
    7. Ego Bowl from the Roundhouse, taking Emerald Express back up (easier), or connecting to Upper Olympic to the gondola mid-station
    8. Easier blues — Banana Peel, Orange Peel, Enchanted Forest off Ego Bowl

    The “Enchanted Forest” with the wooden sign at the entrance is not the Enchanted Forest run shown on the trail map; the entrance is off of the Ego Bowl run. I would also call it a blue, at least the lower section.

    Beginner terrain on Blackcomb is more limited. Beyond Yellow Brick Road, the other area worth investigating is Expressway to Easy Out, starting near the Peak 2 Peak and taking the Catskinner Chair back up (you can also stop at the Magic Castle off Easy Out, just above the base of the Catskinner Chair). To get down from there I would probably just take the Peak 2 Peak back to Whistler and ski the Whistler runs, so you might do this on a day when you are planning to take Peak 2 Peak anyway.

  4. Spent four days doing laps of Ego bowl with my daughters a couple of years ago – great spot!!

    I enjoy you blog – very insightful.

  5. How long did it take your knee to heal? I’m supposed to be skiing with my 7 year old daughter at Deer Valley next week (staying at the Hyatt Place on points!) but have done something to my knee in spin class (I’m breaking down already at 40!) and there’s no way I can ski on it safely. Kiddo will be in ski school for 2 days then hopefully I can at least go tubing with her.

    • Oh so sorry to hear that! I didn’t ski on my knee for almost two years, but that is because about six months after this injury I was pregnant with #2. I don’t think my knee was ever 100% again, but it was 95% by the time I was done having our second daughter and started really using it again. It was walkable though within a month, just not ready to be pushed to the limits for at least 6-12 months later. It was torn, but it wasn’t a complete tear, so it basically healed itself over time.

  6. Used your link to just sign up for the new Hilton business card as it is a new product….I live in their hotels practically as a lifetime diamond, but the extra points always help!

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